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Cumberland is a town in Providence Countymarker, Rhode Islandmarker, United Statesmarker, incorporated in 1746. The population was 31,840 at the 2000 census.


Cumberland was originally settled as part of Rehobothmarker, Massachusettsmarker, which was purchased from the local Native Americans by the Plymouth Colony. It was later transferred to Rhode Island as part of a long-running boundary dispute.

William Blackstone (also spelled William Blaxton in colonial times) was the first European to have settled and lived in Cumberland. (He was also the first European to have settled in Boston, but left there when he and the newly arrived Puritans disagreed about religion.) He preached his brand of tolerant Christianity under an oak tree that became an inspiration to Christians worldwide. He lived on a farm in the Lonsdale area of Cumberland, where he cultivated the first variety of American apples, the Yellow Sweeting. The site of his home is now occupied by the Ann & Hope mill.

The popular tourist destination "Nine Men's Misery" is a tomb found on the grounds of a former Trappist monastery (Abbey of Our Lady of the Valley), part of which was destroyed in a fire in 1950. The Trappists donated the monastery to the town and part of the building was converted into the Edward J. Hayden Library in 1976.

Cumberland was the site of iron works that made cannons and cannon balls for the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.

A machine shop in Cumberland made the first power looms for woolens in America. These were reportedly used at the Capron Mill in Uxbridgemarker, around 1820, that burned in a recent spectacular Bernat Mill fire.

Cumberland is in the lower Blackstone Valley of Rhode Island and in the John H. Chafee, Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, New England's historic National Park area.


Ashton Viaduct, Ashton Village
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 28.2 square miles (73.2 km²), of which, 26.8 square miles (69.4 km²) of it is land and 1.5 square miles (3.8 km²) of it (5.17%) is water. View on Google Maps Hybrid

The only large deposit of Cumberlandite, an iron-rich mineral, is found off Elder Ballou Meeting House Road in northern Cumberland. Though the ore was used to make cannons during the colonial era, the resulting casts were of poor quality and prone to cracking. A major geologic feature of the area is Diamond Hill, a massive outcropping of white quartz. The hill once was host to two small ski areas and is now a town park.


As of the census of 2000, there were 31,840 people, 12,198 households, and 9,038 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,188.4 people per square mile (458.9/km²). There were 12,572 housing units at an average density of 469.2/sq mi (181.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.74% White, 0.57% African American, 0.08% Native American, 0.83% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.84% from other races, and 0.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.09% of the population.

There were 12,198 households out of which 33.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.9% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.9% were non-families. 22.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the town the population was spread out with 24.2% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $54,656, and the median income for a family was $63,194. Males had a median income of $41,073 versus $29,188 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,592. About 2.9% of families and 3.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.1% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over.

Cumberland also has a large and active second and third generation Portuguese-American community. Many of these Portuguese-American citizens immigrated from Portugal into the area to work at the factories in Cumberland and the adjacent cities of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and Central Falls, Rhode Island. There are several Portuguese American Festivals that celebrate the cultural history through out the year. These include the São João or Saint John's Festival that is held in the month of June at the Clube Juventude Lusitana and the Our Lady of Fatima Festival which is held at Our Lady of Fatima Church on Labor Day weekend. The celebrations include traditional Portuguese music, dance and parades. More recently, Cumberland has experienced an increase in its Hispanic population, specifically persons of Colombian descent.

Notable past/present residents


The Cumberland Public Schools is a comprehensive PK-12 public school system serving the Town of Cumberland, Rhode Island. The school system enrolls approximately 5,000 students in preschool, elementary, middle and high school. The five town elementary schools include Bernard F. Norton School, Garvin Memorial, Ashton School, Community School, and John J. McLaughlin Cumberland Hill School. Students in grades 6-8 attend one of two middle schools; Joseph L. McCourt Middle School (formerly Cumberland Middle School) or North Cumberland Middle School. All students in grades 9-12 attend Cumberland High School, a modern campus spread over on Mendon Road/Route 122.

For many years, the district held the distinction of the lowest per pupil spending in the state using comparative financial data from the Rhode Island Department of Education. Over the past ten years, however, the taxpayers have provided substantial resources to the schools through bonds to improve school facilities. Most recently these bond funds were spent on targeted improvements at Ashton School, John J. McLaughlin Cumberland Hill School and Cumberland High School.

Thanks to the financial generosity of the citizens of the Town of Cumberland, major renovations have been completed at Cumberland High School as part of the "CHS 2010" program. Originally opened at its Mendon Road location in 1961, Cumberland High School was formally rededicated on September 27, 2008 after five years of construction and renovation. A new facility, known as the Wellness Center, was built, including three basketball courts, an indoor track, health and physical education rooms. Also, new music and art rooms have been constructed in the location of the former gymnasium. The final phase of the renovations and additions include a new 15-classroom science and technology wing and a new servery and cafeteria seating 600 students.

With a major cycle of facilities updates completed, the district has adopted a three-year strategic plan focused on 21st century skills for students and teachers to create equitable learning opportunities for its five thousand students. A primary emphasis of the district's 2008-2011 Strategic Plan is a collaborative effort to design and build a town learning community that will invigorate community support for the public education system. The Strategic Plan calls for the district to invest funds on teacher professional development in learning styles differences, gifted education and the integration of new classroom technology in all areas of instruction. Also, the plan focuses on strategies to personalize learning for students through differentiated instruction, advisory programs and the district's K-12 counseling program.

Two nationally recognized educational organizations are partnering with the Cumberland schools in their improvement efforts; the Hasbro Center for Teaching Excellence/Dunn Institute and the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The goal of the Dunn Literacy Initiative is to raise student achievement in reading by training all elementary teachers as master teachers in reading. The Dana Center Project aims to create curriculum consistency in every classroom in Cumberland, thereby raising the mathematical proficiency of all students in grades kindergarten through twelve.

The school department is led by School Committee Members Lisa Beaulieu, Donald Costa, Rosa Crowley, Brian Kelly, Ryan Pearson, Dan Pedro and Earl Wood. They currently employ Dr. Donna Morelle as their Superintendent.

Cumberland is home to a charter school, the first Rhode Island Mayoral Academy, Democracy Prep Blackstone Valley. The school will open in the fall of 2009 with Kindergarten.

There is one non-public school in Cumberland. Mercymount Country Day School is run by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, a Roman Catholic order which has its New England regional headquarters in Cumberland.

Culture and traditions

Cumberland is home to the Arnold Mills Fourth of July Parade and Road Race, which is held each year to celebrate (Fourth of July). The first recorded Arnold Mills Parade was held on July 4 1927.[20004]

A popular event, Cumberlandfest, is held each year on the second weekend of August at Diamond Hill Park on Diamond Hill Road. This event features a carnival, with rides and various venues, as well as live entertainment and a small fireworks show. Proceeds go to the town's athletic programs. This event attracts thousands of people every year.

Late in the year, starting in 2002, Cumberland Town and Recreational Department has been putting together a "Spook Trail" in the woods of Diamond Hill Park on Diamond Hill Road called, Haunted Hill. Each year they have title characters like Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers, along with some original like Steadman Scarecrow and his family of Scarecrows. Every year since 2002, this volunteer based event has brought in thousands of dollars to the town. Thousands of people gather on weekends in October (dusk to 10) just to be scared for a good cause.

National Registered Historic Places


External links

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